Traditionally Lidar is the method of choice to scann urban environments at large scale. Usually this is using an airborne method for scanning large areas using laser scanning technologies to build up large point cloud data sets to remodel the environment in 3d.
This is great for virtual 3d city models where the point coud is usually mapped in combination with aerial imagery. Some of the CASA 3D London models, developed by Dr Andrew Hudson-SMith, are based on such datasets.
Image taken from scanLAB / In 2010, 48 hours of colour 3D scanning produced 64 scans of the entire exhibition space using a Faro Photon 120 laser scanner. These have been compiled to form a complete 3D replica of the temporary show which has been distilled into a navigable animation (shown here) and a series of 'standard' architectural drawings. This body of work creates a permanent record of the temporary exhibition, not through recording images or video but solely through 3D scanning.
The scanning however can also be used on the ground, where things area little different. The range is usually likely to be limited due to obstacles and interference, but there is a lot of potential for detail. So can it be used for outdoor and indoor data capturing as wel as details the passageways and entrances.
A great example was developed by scanLABprojects, a Bartlett spinOff using FARO scanners to document the famous Bartlett Summer Show. For the 2010 version of the annual exhibition, scanLAB has reproduced the whole exhibition in 3D as a remaining documentation of a temporal event.
Image taken from scanLAB / A classical sectional drawing derived from the scanned dataset.
The producers Matthew Shaw and William Trossell explain about the project:"A series of high resolution plans, sections and elevations have been extracted from the 3D scanned data set and will be exhibited soon. In these drawings, a three dimensional, sensual and temporary experience, is abstracted into a series of precisely detailed snap shots in time. The work becomes a collage of hours of delicately created lines and forms set within a feature prefect representation of the exhibition space. Sometimes a model or image stands out as identifiable, more often a sketch merges into a model and an exhibition stand creating a blurred hybrid of designs and authors. These drawings represent the closest record to an ‘as built’ drawing set for the entire exhibition and an 'as was' representation of the Bartlett's year."
This technology is very interesting for a lot of things including a complete city scan. Would be a lot of work, but one can already imagine the Google cars being equipped with scanners rather than cameras driving the lot again, capturing more information, more detail and the 3d model with it. However scanLAB have already run some tests and youtube also has some examples of how detailed and representative such scans could be. Actually it is pretty nice and has a very distinct style to it, which could eventually develop into a more subtile representation of 3d environment. It is nothing like 3D worlds or rendering, it has a very thin and fragile aura to it that very specific and likable.
Image taken from scanLAB / Subverting the LiDAR Landscape a city scanning project by scanLAB.